6 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality this Winter
The quality of the air in our homes is just as important as the air quality outside. So, it may surprise you to learn that indoor air quality can be far worse than outdoor air quality. With our homes tightly sealed against the elements, toxins from common household goods (such as furniture, carpeting and cleaners) and allergens from dust and pets can be trapped and build up inside our living spaces. There are ways to improve indoor air quality, keep fresh air circulating and maintain the right humidity level in your home. Air purifiers and air cleaners, in addition to some regular household maintenance and thoughtful product choices, can help.
1. Keep your floors clean.
- Vacuum often using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, strong suction and a rotating brush to keep dust and dirt from blowing back into the room. HEPA filters are the gold standard of air filters. They not only do a great job cleaning dirt and dust, they can actually reduce concentrations toxins, such as lead, and allergens such pollen, pet dander and dust mites.
- Mop hard surface floors regularly to keep dust at bay.
- Use doormats at all entryways. Wipe, or even better, remove shoes before entering the home.
2. Maintain a healthy level of humidity in your home.
- Ideally, humidity should be around 30-50%. Basements, kitchens and bathrooms tend to have higher humidity levels.
- Too little humidity is a problem in Colorado’s arid climate. Excessively dry air, as we often experience during the winter months, is hard on our skin, throats and nasal passages. Use a hygrometer to measure humidity levels in your home to help you determine if you need to add a humidifier. (Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that your humidifier doesn’t become a source of mold, bacteria, fungi and other microbes.)
3. Make your home a no-smoking zone.
- Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals!
- Toxic particles from cigarette smoke, called third-hand smoke, remain on furniture and surfaces for a long time.
- Cigarette smoke is linked to multiple types of cancer in children and adults, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and increased asthma attacks.
4. Use fragrance-free, natural products.
- Fragrances in air fresheners, aerosol sprays, fabric softeners and conventional laundry detergents contain toxins and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases that have been linked to short- and long-term health issues.
- Use mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.
- Stop using aerosol sprays.
5. Bring nature indoors.
- Plants have been shown to act as living air purifiers.
- Open windows, when weather permits, to remove indoor pollutants.
6. Install an air purifier or air cleaner.
- They can remove up to 99% of indoor pollutants!
- Portable units clean one room or area. Whole-house models keep your entire house free of dust, allergens and toxins.
- Need help choosing the right one? Ask your HVAC professional.